Suppression of freedom of expression on political issues remained widespread, with many high-profile dissidents imprisoned on speech-related charges. Public protests remained officially banned in the capital. The government further curbed the right to freedom of association by making legislative amendments that had a de facto discriminatory impact on Shi’a groups. The authorities continued to impose denaturalization as a criminal penalty against those convicted in national security cases, stripping roughly 300 individuals of their nationality. Bahrain’s first military trial of civilians since 2011 was accompanied by reports of torture or other ill-treatment of the defendants that were never adequately investigated. Bahraini prisons continued to be characterized by arbitrary punitive action, degrading treatment of prisoners, and withholding and/or unjustifiable delay of medical care. Women faced discrimination in law and in practice. Migrant workers faced exploitation. Bahrain continued to issue death sentences in 2018, though no executions were reported. The country remained closed to independent outside observers.
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